Were British comics created solely for children?

Talk here about just about anything associated with British comics or story papers and the industry that does not fit in any other forum.
There are separate fora open to registered members for discussing specific comics, artists, websites etc.

Moderators: AndyB, colcool007

Lew Stringer
Posts: 7041
Joined: 01 Mar 2006, 00:59
Contact:

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by Lew Stringer »

In answer to the question posed in the title of this thread, the books of Denis Gifford state that British comics were created for adults, and were later tailored towards children. In his book The Complete Catalogue of British Comics, Denis says: "Ally Sloper and his comic companions were all designed to be read and enjoyed by adults" and he points out that those publications featured social comment and drawings of "saucy ladies of the variety chorus".

He goes on to say "There was no market for a pictorial publication aimed purely at children (outside religious and Sunday School magazines) since Victorian children had virtually no money of their own beyond the Saturday ha'penny. However, children obviously enjoyed looking at the funny pictures in father's comic, and by 1896 Comic Cuts was regularly running strips 'for the children'."

The potential adult market has always been there though, so over the decades some comics have veered more towards that direction, with (as someone has already pointed out) Top Spot and the pocket-sized romance comics of the 1950s and many publications since such as Knockabout, Warrior, Viz, up to some of today's output from Titan Comics.
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
My website: http://www.lewstringer.com
Blog about my own work: http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/

User avatar
abacus
Posts: 636
Joined: 27 Jun 2014, 07:10
Location: leicester uk

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by abacus »

Lew Stringer wrote:In his book The Complete Catalogue of British Comics, Denis says: "Ally Sloper and his comic companions were all designed to be read and enjoyed by adults" and he points out that those publications featured social comment and drawings of "saucy ladies of the variety chorus".



The potential adult market has always been there though, so over the decades some comics have veered more towards that direction, with (as someone has already pointed out) Top Spot and the pocket-sized romance comics of the 1950s and many publications since such as Knockabout, Warrior, Viz, up to some of today's output from Titan Comics.
This was the point I was trying to make about U.S. comics having begun with the reprinting of newspaper strips.
As mentioned children would have enjoyed ALLY SLOPER but maybe not understood the humour and also U.S comics would have had a similar more inclusive appeal.The appeal of newspaper strips can be shown by the book collections of favourite newspaper characters that booksellers sell to the mainstream book buyers and they are not displayed in the children's section.

ANDY CAPP for instance being watered down to make a kids appearance in BUSTER

As mention in earlier posts we were talking about a certain timeline and obviously in later times comic wise adults are catered for by VIZ ,TITAN Publications etc.
Last edited by abacus on 11 May 2017, 14:32, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
philcom55
Posts: 5170
Joined: 14 Jun 2006, 11:56

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by philcom55 »

I don't think there's much doubt that television went a long way to supplant comics as a popular entertainment medium for children, but I suspect that it also killed off a promising development of comic strips for adults that had just begun to take off in mass-market British publications like Reveille, Answers and Tit-Bits during the 1950s. It's worth remembering that before TV came along there were a lot of adults with poor reading skills for whom comics opened up a far more attractive alternative to plain text.

Lew Stringer
Posts: 7041
Joined: 01 Mar 2006, 00:59
Contact:

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by Lew Stringer »

philcom55 wrote:I don't think there's much doubt that television went a long way to supplant comics as a popular entertainment medium for children, but I suspect that it also killed off a promising development of comic strips for adults that had just begun to take off in mass-market British publications like Reveille, Answers and Tit-Bits during the 1950s. It's worth remembering that before TV came along there were a lot of adults with poor reading skills for whom comics opened up a far more attractive alternative to plain text.
It was also down to the direction the publishers wanted to go in I guess. (Or perhaps felt they should go in, as older readers lost interest.) When A.P. became Fleetway at the end of the Fifties, the target audience (with the exception of the war libaries) seemed firmly aimed at children with their new comics such as Buster . That is, children up to school-leaving age, considering the prolific adverts for careers in the police and armed forces and suchlike that appeared in Valiant, etc. Since the late 1970s, the tone of the IPC/Egmont and Thomson comics has gradually changed for even younger readers (except for 2000AD, which went in the other direction). Crisis was aimed at adults of course, but didn't really grab enough of them.

I think the anti-comics crusades of the 1950s would have affected things too. It made mainstream publishers more cautious, especially after the Children and Young Persons Harmful Publications Act of 1955.
(Edit: Link removed as it contained pop up adware.)
Last edited by Lew Stringer on 10 May 2017, 12:56, edited 1 time in total.
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
My website: http://www.lewstringer.com
Blog about my own work: http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/

User avatar
irishjohnp
Posts: 61
Joined: 19 Aug 2015, 00:03

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by irishjohnp »

one of my Comic Cuts comics from World War I era had a banner along the top telling you to 'send this comic to your brother in the trenches' within his xmas package.
highly likely that he was only 15 anyway

Phoenix
Guru
Posts: 5348
Joined: 27 Mar 2008, 21:15

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by Phoenix »

Lew Stringer wrote:(Edit: Link removed as it contained pop up adware.)
I wonder just how widespread this kind of thing is. A few months ago I clicked on a link on comixminx's A Resource On Jinty site, and was sent straight to a porn site. I immediately alerted her to it in a PM. She was onto it like a rat up a drainpipe, and got it sorted in double quick time. Does anyone know of other examples?

comixminx
Posts: 505
Joined: 09 Jul 2015, 16:41
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by comixminx »

Phoenix wrote:
Lew Stringer wrote:(Edit: Link removed as it contained pop up adware.)
I wonder just how widespread this kind of thing is. A few months ago I clicked on a link on comixminx's A Resource On Jinty site, and was sent straight to a porn site. I immediately alerted her to it in a PM. She was onto it like a rat up a drainpipe, and got it sorted in double quick time. Does anyone know of other examples?
I'm afraid it is very prevalent Derek - my spam filter on the blog catches 99% of that sort of thing but will miss the odd one here and there of course - I clear it out regularly and every day or two I need to delete somewhere between 3 and 6 spam comments off the blog.
jintycomic.wordpress.com/ Excellent and weird stories from the past - with amazing art to boot.

User avatar
paw broon
Posts: 1215
Joined: 29 Jan 2011, 19:13
Location: Falkirk, Scotland

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by paw broon »

Re. spam and redirection pop ups, they are everywhere on the Web. Even on Cb+ with a code expert running the site infrastructure, and heavy duty filters in place, the odd it of spam gets through. I found and deleted one post last week. One times there are barely visible links in spam which the unwary will click and which sends them to, or downloads to their computer, a seriously dodgy site/virus or ransom ware.
Lew's quite right in quoting Gifford, and Phil mentions Reveille etc. I had been thinking solely about comics rather than illustrated prose, heavy with cartoons, but taking that type of publication into account as well, we do get really close to abacus, whose ideas are beginning to win me over - a bit :wink:
Taking in the likes of Ally Sloper means we can introduce illustrated story papers into the mix and have a ponder about Union Jack, Detective Weekly, Thriller and many more. Not designed for children and I doubt that, unlike Ally Sloper, they would appeal to much younger readers. Very interesting.

User avatar
philcom55
Posts: 5170
Joined: 14 Jun 2006, 11:56

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by philcom55 »

As far as text story papers go GK Chesterton's famous defence of Penny Dreadfuls from 1901 - itself a response to many contemporary attacks on the genre - is highly instructive. In this Chesterton makes it quite clear that such lurid publications were widely seen as 'boys' literature' for the lower classes (while girls, of course, had their own titles like Peg's Paper).

http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/boo ... dfuls.html

User avatar
abacus
Posts: 636
Joined: 27 Jun 2014, 07:10
Location: leicester uk

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by abacus »

It may be possible to differentiate between U.S.and U.K. approach to comic humour if we compare two similar strips , DENNIS THE MENACE U.S. and DENNIS THE MENACE U.K. Both excellent comic strips.The U.S version is more realistic with the comedy in the dialogue while the U.K. is less realistic with the comedy in the action.The visual U.K version appealing more to children than adults whereas adults would probably appreciate the jokes in the U.S version.This is just a thought but maybe a clue to the different comic buying cultures.

User avatar
philcom55
Posts: 5170
Joined: 14 Jun 2006, 11:56

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by philcom55 »

I've always thought that the British Dennis (along with anything by Reid or Baxendale) was far more anarchic than the American version. As such it probably had more in common with the appeal of EC comics for young readers (which in turn led to the creation of Mad Magazine).

Lew Stringer
Posts: 7041
Joined: 01 Mar 2006, 00:59
Contact:

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by Lew Stringer »

paw broon wrote: Taking in the likes of Ally Sloper means we can introduce illustrated story papers into the mix and have a ponder about Union Jack, Detective Weekly, Thriller and many more. Not designed for children and I doubt that, unlike Ally Sloper, they would appeal to much younger readers. Very interesting.
Well, Ally Sloper did feature some short strips, as did Comic Cuts and Chips. They were all considered to be "comics" in their time. My grandad read Chips as a boy at the end of the 19th Century and he always referred to it as a comic. Interestingly, he didn't consider Whizzer & Chips and 60s/70s comics to be "proper comics" because they looked so different to what he read decades earlier. The idea of what a comic is has evolved over time. I understand Union Jack and Thriller were prose-only (with spot illustrations)? So not really comics at all, although I know some refer to them as such.
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
My website: http://www.lewstringer.com
Blog about my own work: http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/

Lew Stringer
Posts: 7041
Joined: 01 Mar 2006, 00:59
Contact:

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by Lew Stringer »

philcom55 wrote:I've always thought that the British Dennis (along with anything by Reid or Baxendale) was far more anarchic than the American version. As such it probably had more in common with the appeal of EC comics for young readers (which in turn led to the creation of Mad Magazine).
American comic humour is generally more reserved than what one finds in British comics. I could never get into Archie, Hot Stuff, Casper, etc as they seemed so placid and twee compared to The Dandy, Wham! and Smash!

I did enjoy Mad though, but that was for an older reader (even though I was reading it when I was 8 or 9, as were most of us probably).
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
My website: http://www.lewstringer.com
Blog about my own work: http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/

User avatar
philcom55
Posts: 5170
Joined: 14 Jun 2006, 11:56

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by philcom55 »

Of course there were exceptions in American newspaper strips, many of which were spun off into their own comic books. Krazy Kat is the obvious example, but Bill Holman's brilliantly surreal Smokey Stover also reminds me of some British humour strips.

Lew Stringer
Posts: 7041
Joined: 01 Mar 2006, 00:59
Contact:

Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by Lew Stringer »

philcom55 wrote:Of course there were exceptions in American newspaper strips, many of which were spun off into their own comic books. Krazy Kat is the obvious example, but Bill Holman's brilliantly surreal Smokey Stover also reminds me of some British humour strips.
True, although most newspaper strips were intended for older readers so they could be more sophisticated.
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
My website: http://www.lewstringer.com
Blog about my own work: http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/

Post Reply